Are you familiar with radicchio? Sure, you have probably seen a leaf or two in a pile of mixed greens, but if that sums up your radicchio experience, you are missing out on this unique leafy vegetable.
Winter is the best time to enjoy radicchio. There are a multitude of ways it can be prepared. One of the first things people notice about radicchio is its beautiful and vibrant color. The bulbs are bright green, but through cultivation and careful farming, they turn a brilliant red with white veins. Radicchio resembles a head of cabbage or lettuce, but it actually falls into the dandelion family on the chicory side. It is known to have a bitter taste, but when you cook it, the sweeter notes shine through. If you do eat it raw, pairing it with the right ingredients is key. The leaves are the perfect shape for filling with some tasty goodies. For example, a mixture of cheeses and nuts go really well in one of these lettuce cups.
Radicchio’s bitterness comes from intybin which is a stimulant for your appetite and digestive system. It also cleanses the blood and liver. Are you wondering what intybin is? It is a bitter substance that has a sedative and analgesic effect on the central nervous system. Radicchio contains a variety of B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and inulin, which helps balance blood sugar levels.
Another interesting fact about radicchio is that it’s a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine. It’s fabulous in salads, pasta dishes, sauces, as a topping on pizza, and much more! Today, I am sharing with you a popular way to use it in a salad…by roasting it! As I mentioned already, cooking radicchio brings out some sweet tones. Then pairing it with some fruit and nuts adds a lovely flavor combination which creates a beautiful winter or early spring salad. You can swap the pears out for apples, use a variety of dried fruits, and nuts of your choice. I like using hazelnuts, but walnuts and pecans are also favorites.
2 medium heads of radicchio, sliced into quarters
1 large pear, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried fruit (cherries, blueberries, dates, cranberries, or a mixture)
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp MCT oil (or olive oil)
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1) Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400°F. Wash radicchio and slice both heads into quarters. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Drizzle this mixture over the radicchio.
2) Place the radicchio cut side down on the parchment and roast for about 7-8 minutes. Oven times will vary so keep a watchful eye. You are looking for the radicchio to become slightly wilted and browned.
3) While the radicchio is roasting, thinly slice your pear and set aside in a medium bowl and add in the dried fruit. In a small bowl, whisk together the MCT oil, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Pour this mixture over the pears and dried fruit. Give it a toss to evenly coat. Chop the hazelnuts and set aside.
4) Once your radicchio is properly roasted, arrange the wedges on a plate. Then arrange the pears and fruit as desired. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the salad and serve immediately. Serves 4-6 depending on portion sizes.